“I won’t say nothing!” Charlie huffed with a bloody smile. The mid-20s thug was chained to a brick wall in a bathroom-sized room. Two black-masked strangers, one male one female, questioned him. “You’re gonna hafta kill me, ’cause I can take a ton of pain. More than you can dish out! Haha” he coughed and laughed at the same time.

The woman stepped forward with a smirk; she made a show of holding her right hand up in front of Charlie. He noticed a small tattoo on the base of her thumb as she slipped on a blue surgical glove. The tattoo was just the number 21 in blue ink. She tightened the glove and flexed her fingers prompting Charlie to laugh again.

“I don’t care how much you cut me open, I ain’t talkin’,” he said.

“Cut you open?” the woman asked. It was the first time Charlie heard her beautiful voice. Part of him wished he could have met her under different circumstances. The masked man that roughed Charlie up before the woman arrived held out a black canvas bag in front of her. “Oh, we don’t need to do that,” she dipped her glove hand into the bag. Charlie felt the strangest sensation. It wasn’t pain, but pressure. Somehow he felt something poking at his heart.

The woman pulled her hand out of the bag and locked eyes with Charlie. He watched her bring a blood-red fingertip to her mouth and lick it clean.

“If that wasn’t clear enough,” She said. At her comment, the man holding the bag flipped it over and turned it inside out. There was no secret reservoir of fake blood in the bag. Then he held the inverted black bag out again for the woman. She pushed her hand in and immediately Charlie felt fingertips caressing his heart.

“Now, I’m sure you can take a lot but pain is my career,” Charlie lost his breath for a moment and saw stars when she gently squeezed his heart, then she released it. The woman leaned closer to his ear and whispered. “You think we’re going to break your legs? Smash your fingers, maybe pull your fingernails out? You wish.”

Charlie screamed in agony. Searing, stabbing pain radiated from his gut; he leaned forward trying to protect and cradle the spot but he could not move his arms. The woman pulled a bloody, broken, jagged rib from the bag then casually tossed it on the floor. She wiggled her red fingers at Charlie and winked.

“You only have 23 more ribs, but don’t worry. If you’re not ready to talk after we ask you 23 more times, you have other organs you can live without.” She put her hand back in the bag.

“To save time, I’m just going to start taking you apart piece by piece,” Charlie screamed again as she pulled out another rib. “You can tell us where to find her whenever you want me to stop.”

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